How 3D printing could revolutionise the sport of surfing

So the overall aim of the trip is to test out the different fin types that Marc’s been able to 3D print. So we want to measure the performance of our fins, because what we’ve designed is a what is called a performance feedback loop. Where we start with computer-aided design to design our fins. Then we use 3D printing or additive manufacturing to print our fins, then we do laboratory testing. So we test how stiff our fins, which is important for the performance of fins. Then we use computational fluid dynamics to assess how does a fin perform before we even put it in the water? So we put it in simulated water. We look at pressure, and then we take it to the ocean laboratory and the ocean laboratory is where we can get accomplished surfers can take these fins and then put them to the test on the real-life conditions. The thing about Marcaroni’s, and certainly you’ll hear it said elsewhere, is that it is mechanical and that’s the reason why we’re here. It provides the same type of wave every time which means consistency of data and it allows the surfers as part of this project to perform in a certain way to ride the same type of ways to do the same types of turns. Think Marcaroni’s is your wave pool in the ocean, your ocean wave pool. It’s mechanical. You can expect the wave to do a certain thing. Which allows you a canvas to replicate and do as many turns. We tried testing at home, obviously on the Illawarra. We have beautiful beaches. They’re beautiful, but they’re very inconsistent in terms of the surf. So in terms of the size of the wave where the waves come from. It’s just really difficult to have that consistency. Every fin has a different personality and and and the benefit of Marcaroni’s is you can really Feel the differences because you have so many different chances to hit the wave and there’s so many options and sections that you can really try to give variation into your surfing. Obviously different surfers, different shapes, different wave conditions, different weights, all different things going to make up what fin is going to suit not only the person but the person in that particular session or that particular wave. Speed power and floor is what we’re looking for in terms of performance. So we’ve made three different prototypes. The first prototype is designed to look exactly like a commercial film that is produced by the main manufacturers. Second fin has we call them grooves. Some people call them crinkles They looked like crinkled crisps almost, and what that does what the performance feedback loop has told us that changes the lift-to-drag ratio, and lift-to-drag ratio allows surfers to Use and make, use the fins to make faster manoeuvres, better maneuvers, more powerful maneuvers. What I noticed is it mainly just gains more power. So when we go out on the boat the surfers go out, they don’t put their fins in we put the fins in their board. We basically blind them to condition to when they’re out there surfing. They come back to me after a certain number of turns and they have to then fill out what we call a visual analogue scale. This is how they feel about the different things, the hold, the drive, the speed, all these types of things that surface look for in a fin. Obviously each fin had its strengths and weakness and and allowed you to surf certain waves. For me personally as a surfer, when somebody rips the bag out of a wave and sends buckets and buckets of spray up, that gets me really excited. One of the hardest parts for me has been I am on a boat, measuring. I am watching people surf all day. As a surfer that is just it’s coming close to torture for me. As a shaper getting to watch all the guys rip on on the boards, that’s been you know, that’s so satisfying for me. To be part of a group that’s so varied so we have six surfers who are coming from different backgrounds with different surfing capabilities two, very smart kingpins of the project if you like and interacting and engaging with all of those people both in the water and out is certainly a highlight. A highlight for me is personally getting to work on a lot of my surfing and gained a lot of knowledge about my own surfing, and have that validated by a lot of the data that we’ve we’ve gathered. It’s also been a massive opportunity to really work on equipment and fins and step outside my comfort zone with riding different fins at different shapes and different boards it’s not every day that you do get asked to go on a surf trip and test a bunch of newbies.

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